ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A former trust attorney is accused of stealing more than $278,000 from a trust account that he oversaw and was charged with grand theft on Monday, according to St. Petersburg Police.

  • Darce Jay Snyder, 68, makes first court appearance
  • Victim says she didn't notice money missing until last year
  • Judge orders Snyder to surrender his passport
  • More Pinellas County headlines

That former attorney, Darce Jay Snyder, 68, made his first appearance in court before a Pinellas Judge on Tuesday. Snyder told Judge Pat Siracusa that he didn’t have any money to hire an attorney and asked that his $150,000 bond be reduced.

“I haven’t worked in over two-and-a-half years. I actually have an interview today for a census job,” he said. “They were giving me a call. So, I’m in pretty dire straits right now, your honor.”

Judge Siracusa denied Snyder’s request and kept the bond at the same amount.

According to an arrest affidavit, Snyder was in charge of a trust account that was originally valued at more than $700,000. Police said in 2015, Snyder stole $278,690 from the victim’s account by writing checks to himself.

The victim, Valerie Sexton-Maher, 50, said she didn’t notice the money was missing until last year because she could not take control of the trust account until she turned 50 years old.

“Unfortunately, you can’t always trust a trustee on an account,” she said. “They are very good at hiding money.”

Sexton-Maher said there isn’t any money left in her account and prosecutors can’t charge Snyder for stealing the entire amount because of the statute of limitations.

“What he was charged with is not the full extent of what he took from me,” she said. “At the beginning of the trustee account, there was close to a million dollars in it and that was when my mother passed away in 2001. So, at a conservative rate of interest we would be talking about millions.”

In 2018, The Florida Supreme Court revoked Snyder’s license to practice law after the attorney was accused of withdrawing $1 million in advance fees from another client without his authorization.

Sexton-Maher said she lives in the Jacksonville area and didn’t find out about Snyder’s disciplinary revocation, which is tantamount to disbarment, until last year.

“It’s beyond upsetting. It makes me sad that unfortunately my mother trusted this person and thought that he was going to do the right thing for me,” she said. “I’ve prided myself on not touching any money from that trust until I needed it… I planned on using it for my retirement. I’ve had some health issues in the last couple of years and… that money would be a big deal for me now and I don’t have it.”

Sexton-Maher said she’s speaking out publicly to try and prevent this from happening to anyone else.

The judge also ordered Snyder to surrender his passport after the prosecutor told him that the defendant has the means and the ability to travel internationally.